April 01, 2007


 Bills to limit antimicrobial use are back

Posted March 15, 2007

Congress is again considering legislation to reduce routine use of antimicrobials in animal agriculture.

The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (S. 549/HR 962) would phase out the use of certain antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals for nontherapeutic purposes such as growth promotion, feed efficiency, weight gain, routine disease prevention, and other routine uses.

The AVMA has not supported passage of the legislation in the past because a broad ban on antimicrobial use for routine disease prevention and other routine purposes could present risks to the health and welfare of animals. Instead, the AVMA urged that any restrictions be based on risk analysis that is specific to individual drug-use combinations rather than broad bans of classes of use based on theoretical risks projected from studies of different drug-use combinations. Supporters of the legislation, however, say a ban on nontherapeutic use could prevent development of drug-resistant microbes and thus preserve the effectiveness of antimicrobial drugs.

The bills in the Senate and House of Representatives would phase out nontherapeutic use in food-producing animals of antimicrobial drugs, including penicillin, tetracycline, macrolide, lincosamide, streptogramin, aminoglycoside, sulfonamide, and any other antimicrobial used in humans. Both of the bills would require manufacturers of animal medicines or feeds that contain these antimicrobials to report total sales quantities of the drugs for each type of food-producing animal, the purpose for use, and the dosage form.

The Senate bill would provide financial assistance, if funds are appropriated, to producers who substantially reduce nontherapeutic uses of antimicrobial drugs, to defray the cost of reduction. Priority of funding would be given to family farmers and small farms. The Senate bill also would provide funding for research and demonstration programs on methods of reduction.

The text and status
of the bills is available
online through the
Library of Congress at
by searching for